VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

the thin end of the wedge
audiodk
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VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by audiodk » 12 Sep 2017 05:14

I had a chance to compare a Jico VN45HE ($250) with a OEM NOS VN45HE(no longer available).
VN45HE-J1.jpg
Cantilever comparison
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The OEM is on the left, Jico on the right. The Jico cantilever is longer. It does have a telescoped shank but it's further down toward the suspension block. You can clearly see the telescoped piece on the OEM.

VN45HE-J2.jpg
Stylus mounting comparison
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The OEM is on the left, Jico on the right. The OEM stylus is smaller (less mass) and is nude mounted. The Jico appears to be mounted on a bushing.

VN45HE-J3.jpg
Stylus tip comparison
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The OEM is on the left, Jico on the right. The OEM is smaller (less mass). The Jico shows some pitting on the surface looks to be a lower quality diamond.

Technical Specifications
Stylus Shape Jico: Hyperelliptical; Shure: Hyperelliptical
Tip Dimensions Jico: ?; Shure: 0.2x1.5mil
Frequency Response Jico: ?; Shure: 10-25k Hz +/- 2 dB
Channel Separation Jico: ?; Shure: 25dB @ 1k Hz
15dB @ 10k Hz
Tracking Force Jico: ?; Shure: 0.75 – 1.25 grams
Stylus Assembly Weight Jico: 0.95 grams*; Shure: 1.25 grams

I could not find any published specifications for the Jico. I weighed the assemblies with my own scale.

Shure Obstacle Course Results (VTF 1.5 grams with stabilizer brush in the down position).

Orch Bells Level 1: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
2: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
3: Jico- some distortion;
Shure- clean
4: Jico- mistrack;
Shure- some distortion

Drum & Cymbal 1: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
2: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
3: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
4: Jico- slight distortion;
Shure- clean

Bass Drum 1: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
2: Jico- slight distortion;
Shure- clean
3: Jico- mistrack;
Shure- clean
4: Jico- --;
Shure- slight distortion

Sibilance 1: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
2: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
3: Jico- slight distortion;
Shure- clean
4: Jico- some distortion;
Shure- clean
5: Jico- mistrack;
Shure- slight distortion

Violin 1: Jico- clean;
Shure- clean
2: Jico- slight distortion;
Shure- clean
3: Jico- some distortion;
Shure- clean
4: Jico- mistrack;
Shure- slight distortion
5: Jico- --;
Shure- some distortion

I tested both styli with the Shure Obstacle Course records (II and III versions).
Most commercial recordings do go above level 3.

*some Shure stylus assembly components may be missing from the Jico version which may account for the difference in weight. I could not verify if the Jico had these components:
Visco-elastic suspension block with two-function bearing system;
High energy rare earth magnet;
Pivot control system.

PaulKehayas
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by PaulKehayas » 12 Sep 2017 13:35

That is amazing!
For the money I thought at least Jico would try a bit harder.
Nude stylus perhaps?
I dunno. I like their conicals but even now I am thinking that they tier the quality of their diamonds even in that range.

BMRR
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by BMRR » 12 Sep 2017 15:27

One issue to keep in mind is that JICO's brush is not damped; you have to think of it strictly as a dust brush, not a Dynamic Stabilizer Brush.

If you have the time, it might be interesting to try the test again, but with both brushes in the up position (and VTF reset accordingly), and see if the results change.

As far as the price is concerned, the JICO isn't exactly inexpensive but it's also not outrageous. The days of buying a brand new stylus with a nude diamond for less than $100 are gone and will likely never return. But I'm curious about your statement that the JICO costs $250. Is that what you paid for it? And if so, from whom did you purchase it? JICO lists it as $148 on their official web site, and there are several reputable eBay sellers who carry them for around $115 with free shipping. I paid only $82 for my JICO VN35HE (basically the same as the VN45HE but without the brush), and that was with free shipping from Japan to the U.S.

Vinylfreak86
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 12 Sep 2017 16:03

But Shure is still producing their styluses in own factory (I know, in Mexico not in USA :) )? The vast majority of them are now DJ versions, because the market require this. I just ordered new M44-7, so I want to know.

audiodk
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by audiodk » 12 Sep 2017 17:04

BMRR wrote:One issue to keep in mind is that JICO's brush is not damped; you have to think of it strictly as a dust brush, not a Dynamic Stabilizer Brush.

If you have the time, it might be interesting to try the test again, but with both brushes in the up position (and VTF reset accordingly), and see if the results change.

As far as the price is concerned, the JICO isn't exactly inexpensive but it's also not outrageous. The days of buying a brand new stylus with a nude diamond for less than $100 are gone and will likely never return. But I'm curious about your statement that the JICO costs $250. Is that what you paid for it? And if so, from whom did you purchase it? JICO lists it as $148 on their official web site, and there are several reputable eBay sellers who carry them for around $115 with free shipping. I paid only $82 for my JICO VN35HE (basically the same as the VN45HE but without the brush), and that was with free shipping from Japan to the U.S.
I see Jico's price at $148. I bought mine from Amazon a month ago (think there was a 2-3 month waiting period at Jico). I just checked the Amazon price and it's gone up to $253 + $7.50 for shipping. It's from a company called "Buy Japan".

audiodk
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by audiodk » 12 Sep 2017 17:07

Vinylfreak86 wrote:But Shure is still producing their styluses in own factory (I know, in Mexico not in USA :) )? The vast majority of them are now DJ versions, because the market require this. I just ordered new M44-7, so I want to know.
Yes. Shure still makes their own stylus for the M44, M97XE and some of their other models, but the V15 line has been discontinued.

BMRR
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by BMRR » 12 Sep 2017 17:27

audiodk wrote:I see Jico's price at $148. I bought mine from Amazon a month ago (think there was a 2-3 month waiting period at Jico). I just checked the Amazon price and it's gone up to $253 + $7.50 for shipping. It's from a company called "Buy Japan".
It sounds like the folks at "Buy Japan" are price gouging. :?

Here are a couple of eBayers who have the JICO VN45HE at much more reasonable prices:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/TENSION-WIRED-J ... 2691513125

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jico-Exchange-N ... 2818742553

PaulKehayas
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by PaulKehayas » 13 Sep 2017 15:27

Regardless of price. I would like more attention paid to these findings.
I like Jico but for the premium they charge for stylii they aren't quite delivering.

BMRR
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by BMRR » 13 Sep 2017 15:50

In fairness, the same can be said of Shure these days. I had to go through three N97xE styli before I finally got one that wasn't outright defective; had to go through two SS35C styli before I got one that wasn't outright defective; a friend of mine purchased two N97xEs (ordered them directly from Shure), and both were outright defective. Even when (or if) you get one that isn't defective, the quality is only so-so compared to the styli they used to make. In defense of JICO, they pay a lot more attention to detail and quality control, and that does cost money. I don't know for sure but I suspect their employees are also paid better than those working for Shure in Mexico.

With Shure no longer making V15 styli, our choices are very limited. You can forget about Pfanstiehl and EVG unless you're willing to give up the Shure sound and willing to have a cartridge that only passes the first track on the Shure test record. If you're lucky enough to still own an original Shure V15 stylus, you can have it retipped and that's probably your very best option if you want it to perform as close to original spec as possible. That'll cost you more than a JICO HE, of course — but again, you get what you pay for.

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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by 1200y3 » 13 Sep 2017 16:20

There is way more to a Shure stylus than just the needle. The housing, compliance, and whole framework adds to the quality of the stylus. Even the quality of the plastic and the aluminum decals (for stiffness) that Shure used made a difference.

I believe Shure used a separate specialist team for the V15s, that only did the V15s.

audiodk
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by audiodk » 13 Sep 2017 18:38

Some background on this comparison test. I had mentioned to a friend that I had a Jico replacement for the VN45HE but was disappointed that there were no printed specifications that were included with the stylus. That's when I found out he had an OEM NOS VN45HE. He was storing it in the original plastic box in a vacuum sealed Food Saver bag. He was curious to see if vacuum sealing did any good preserving its condition so we decided to do the comparison test. He said it's been vacuum sealed at least 5+ years (possibly more) and was pleased to find it's still in near-new condition. He also said the stylus was not vacuum sealed for several years after he bought it and he only started sealing after he read something from Shure about keeping spare styli in an air-tight jar. Unfortunately he didn't let me keep it long enough to do any listening tests so I wasn't able to compare how it sounds with the Jico. But at least we found a good way to preserve spare styli.

1200y3
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by 1200y3 » 14 Sep 2017 06:38

The compliance (the V15 4 actually has two) is a very costly part of the stylus, so it might pay off to do whatever it takes to preserve the tiny rubber donut.

I also remember a lot that the compliance of the V15 III and V15 IV was much softer than the V15 V.

a.wayne
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by a.wayne » 15 Sep 2017 01:02

Good stuff , thanks for the effort and info ......

Ron Ginsberg
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by Ron Ginsberg » 13 Nov 2017 16:03

Is this the new Neo SAS with the sapphire cantilever, or the even more expensive ruby? On their web site they show pictures of the sapphire and ruby cantilevers and they look nothing like your photos. Are you photographing a different offering? Their sapphire offering is the VN5MR Neo SAS/S, for the sapphire, the ruby is /R priced on their web site for $267 and $467 respectively with $22 shipping.

audiodk
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Re: VN45HE. Jico vs. Shure

Post by audiodk » 13 Nov 2017 19:25

Ron Ginsberg wrote:Is this the new Neo SAS with the sapphire cantilever, or the even more expensive ruby? On their web site they show pictures of the sapphire and ruby cantilevers and they look nothing like your photos. Are you photographing a different offering? Their sapphire offering is the VN5MR Neo SAS/S, for the sapphire, the ruby is /R priced on their web site for $267 and $467 respectively with $22 shipping.
I was comparing "apples to apples" using Jico's version of the original Shure VN45HE. As I mentioned before, I bought my Jico from Amazon and the going price was around $250.

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